This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Dems seek GOP wipeout in California MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump ally suspends reelection campaign Trump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks Ryan removes indicted GOP lawmaker from House Energy and Commerce Committee MORE (R-La.) are looking to bring a progressive-backed measure to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the House floor in an attempt to force Democrats to show where they really stand on the issue.

Though it would fail, conservatives argue it would force Democrats into a political bind by making them pick between a vocal, progressive base — where the "abolish ICE" movement has gained traction — and the majority of both their party and voters more broadly, who polling shows don't support the effort.

McCarthy said the measure will likely see a vote ahead of the August recess.

"Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE, which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security. ... I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue," Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill late last week.

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Scalise first pushed for the move during meetings with the deputy whip team and at the Republican Study Committee steering committee meeting, where members were enthusiastic about the idea, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.

While the No. 2 and No. 3 Republicans in the House are on board with the idea, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanVulnerable Republicans include several up-and-coming GOP leaders Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Congress should prohibit members from serving on company boards MORE (R-Wis.) has yet to publicly endorse voting on the legislation.

Meanwhile, other GOP lawmakers are warning that the political ploy could backfire by giving vulnerable Democratic incumbents a chance to distance themselves from progressives.

“Right now the whole Democratic Party is tarred with this abolish ICE thing,” Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeTrump faces long odds in avoiding big spending bill Paul Ryan would be ‘perfect fit’ to lead AEI, Republicans say This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (R-Okla.) told the Washington Examiner. “Why give people a Get Out of Jail card free?”

Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanHow Twitter vaulted 'Abolish ICE' into the mainstream Ocasio-Cortez tiptoes into Washington Gillibrand: 'We should get rid of ICE' if Dems flip House and Senate MORE (D-Wis.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalRecord numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress Liberal Dems lay groundwork to push 'Medicare for all' Dems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients MORE (D-Wash.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralDem lawmaker to lead vigil in New York park following anti-immigrant rally Gillibrand: 'We should get rid of ICE' if Dems flip House and Senate NAACP statehood statement leaves Puerto Ricans perplexed MORE (D-N.Y.) — who introduced the legislation — have said they will vote against their bill if it's brought to the floor and accused GOP leaders of exploiting the legislation for political gain.

"If Speaker Ryan puts our bill on the floor, we plan to vote no," they said in a joint statement. We "will instead use the opportunity to force an urgently needed and long-overdue conversation on the House floor.”

Helsinki meeting

Lawmakers are keeping a close eye on Trump’s meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is scheduled to meet one-one-one with Trump starting at 6:20 a.m. Eastern time, before the two had to a working lunch that will start at 7:50 a.m. Eastern time and, finally, a joint conference that will begin shortly before 10 a.m.

The summit comes three days after 12 Russians were indicted as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Top Democrats, as well as GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Trump signs 7B defense policy bill into law | Rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him | Green Beret killed in Afghanistan blast Tapper thanks McCain for his service ‘since President Trump would not do it’ Trump rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him MORE (Ariz.), floated the idea that Trump should cancel the meeting. Meanwhile, Republicans, generally supportive of the sit-down, are urging Trump to use the one-on-one to take a firm line with Putin on Moscow’s election interference ahead of the 2018 midterm.  

“I would expect the conversation to be about the nature of our relationship and if the Russians want it to be improved we need to have no more interference in our elections in 2018 or 2020,” GOP Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranTougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans Farm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage GOP senator: Trump said he never heard of anyone who didn’t want a payment from the government MORE (Kan.) — who recently traveled to Russia — told Fox News's “Special Report.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad Strong job growth drives home choice for voters this election MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday that he told Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts Turkish president: US set deadline to release detained pastor Pompeo discusses new sanctions in call with Russian counterpart MORE that, if the meeting was going to take place, Trump must “press Putin hard” on election meddling, demand that the 12 Russians be extradited to the United States for trial and that he must not agree to “weaken, lift, or curtail” sanctions against Russia.

For Trump "to meet with President Putin without expressing the outrage of the American people & securing real progress would be terrible for the US & the security of our election system," Schumer said on Twitter.

Lawmakers are watching closely to see if Trump signals any concessions to Putin on Syria or Ukraine. Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, told “Fox News Sunday” that it was “highly unlikely” that Trump would recognize Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea.

But Trump previously criticized the Obama administration for failing to prevent the annexation and said Crimea is "Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian."

Nominations

Brett Kavanaugh, President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE’s Supreme Court nominee, is expected to continue making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week.

So far, Kavanaugh — nominated to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — has met only with Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' Senate GOP campaign arm asking Trump to endorse McSally in Arizona: report MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyArchivist rejects Democrats' demand for Kavanaugh documents Kavanaugh recommended against Clinton indictment in 1998: report Russian meddling on social media happens on both the right and left MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

McConnell told reporters in Kentucky late last week that he expects the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Kavanaugh’s nomination in late August or early September. That would set up the Senate to vote on his nomination before the court starts its new term in October.

"The timetable typically for recent Supreme Court justices, if we stuck to that timetable — and I intend to — would give us an opportunity to get this new justice on the court by the first of October," said McConnell.

Because Republicans nixed the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court nominees last year, they could confirm Kavanaugh without help from Democrats if they remain united behind his nomination. With their 51 seat majority effectively capped at 50 votes because of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) absence, they would have no room for error if they were forced to go it alone.

Moderate Republican Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Judiciary announces Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing NRA will spend M to support Kavanaugh for Supreme Court: report Planned Parenthood launches six-figure Supreme Court ad campaign MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiAlaska fishermen worry Trump tariffs will be ‘devastating’ to seafood industry Senate Judiciary announces Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing NRA will spend M to support Kavanaugh for Supreme Court: report MORE (Alaska) are both considered potential swing votes, though they’ve sounded positive about Kavanaugh’s nomination so far. GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRepublicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report Ex-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer GOP leaders: No talk of inviting Russia delegation to Capitol MORE (R-Ky.) is also considered a senator to watch because of Kavanaugh’s work in the George W. Bush administration.

Meanwhile, Schumer is under intense pressure to get his 49-member caucus to come out in unified opposition to Kavanaugh.

Progressive outside groups want Democrats to announce their opposition to Kavanaugh now instead of waiting until closer to his Judiciary Committee hearing, arguing it would help put pressure on the GOP senators they need to win over if they are going to block Trump’s nominee.

Activists argue that Schumer should pressure red-state Democrats to oppose Kavanaugh, including using committee slots or leadership positions to hold them accountable if they support Trump’s pick despite a mountain of pressure from the base.

“If he's a leader who's not going to do that, then we need a different leader,” Heidi Hess, the co-director of Credo Action, told The Hill last week.

But Democratic senators warn that is not Schumer’s style and that it is unrealistic to think leadership can dictate how members vote on such a high-profile fight like a Supreme Court nomination.

“That’s never been the case. I’ve been around here a few years and when it comes to something of this historic importance members make up their own minds,” said Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems seize on Kavanaugh emails to question role in terrorism response Trump gives thumbs up to prison sentencing reform bill at pivotal meeting Overnight Defense: Officials make show of force on election security | Dems want probe into Air Force One tours | Pentagon believes Korean War remains 'consistent' with Americans MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

Meanwhile, red- and purple-state Democrats are warning that they won’t be swayed by leadership.

“It doesn’t matter what  Mitch McConnell says. It doesn’t matter what Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad Strong job growth drives home choice for voters this election MORE says,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio station.

Asked if it was important for Democrats to remain unified, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) — considered a top target despite not being up for reelection — demurred.

“I think it’s important for the country to give an independent review for this guy,” he said. “To make an independent decision.”

Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, McConnell has set up another slate of nominations.

Senators are expected to vote Monday evening on Scott Stump to be the assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education at the Department of Education.

McConnell has also teed up votes on Randal Quarles’s nomination to be a member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, as well as Andrew Oldham and Ryan Bounds nominations to be appeals judges on 5th and 9th Circuits, respectively.

Farm bill

The House is expected to vote on the motion to go to conference on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 this week.

The lower chamber on June 21 narrowly approved in a 213-211 vote a five-year farm bill that would impose new work requirements on people who receive food stamps. The Senate’s version, which includes language to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity, easily passed in an 86-11 vote on June 28.

The main sticking point during conference is expected to be on the House’s welfare reform language.

Carbon tax vote

The House is slated to vote on a resolution that would condemn the idea of a carbon tax later in the week.

The measure, introduced by Scalise and Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyOvernight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process Koch backs House measure opposing carbon taxes This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (R-W.Va.) in April, would express the “sense of Congress” that a tax on carbon dioxide emissions “would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

The House passed a similar nonbinding measure in 2016.

Timothy Cama contributed